We arrived in Cairns at 5 in the morning after zero hours sleep. The hostel couldn’t check us in, so we slept outside on their veranda, spooning our backpacks and trying to catch 5 minutes of sleep. The hostel we had chosen had good reviews and said it was recently refurbished. I know recently is an ambiguous word, but this place was rank. There were three toilets between a gazillion people and it was full of 18 year old shrieking brits. I might as well have been in fifth Ave in Manchester. “oh my gaaaaaaad I like totally slept with those two guys last night”, “sambuccaaaaaaa”, “are we doing shots yaaaaaaah”.
So. We changed our plans. Instead of getting buses and staying in hostels, we would get a mini campervan. We naively also thought this would be cheaper. It is not cheaper. Be warned. It is only cheaper if you free camp and forgoe your bodily hygiene. If you value a shower then you’ll have to pay site fees, which are similar to a hostel anyway. But it is much better. You can drive to where you want and see what you want. You see a pretty thing. You stop and eat lunch at the pretty thing. Whereas on a bus you can only see it for a second from the window.
So we started in Cairns and hired “Coco the camper”. Named after CocoIchibanya. Because nom. She was a mature old lady but very robust.
She had a two ring burner, a full on proper fridge, plus all the bits that you should need – cups, cutlery, sleeping bags. We got her from travelwheels, which is a much smaller rental company, but you don’t have the embarrassing advertisement on the sides. She was discreet.
We stayed in a lovely place called Lake Eacham. The campsite owners were lovely and talked to us for ages about MS. Their daughter is currently in Mexico having stem cell therapy so it was interesting learning about their story and comparing to Andrew’s.
We went to Airlie beach for a couple of days which was beautiful.
This was meant to be our stopping off point for Whitehaven beach. It is meant to be one of the most stunning beaches in the world, with white sand and crystal blue waters. We had booked a trip out there for the day and the weather seemed fine. However out to sea, the boat was almost horizontal and we were being thrown about by the waves. I was terrified, so when the skipper came to tell us it was too dangerous and we were turning back, I was relieved. Andrew had had a dream that we were thrown overboard and got eaten by jellyfish, so I was starting to panic thinking that he had actually had a premonition. The company gave us a full refund and we got to eat our free lunch!
Instead we went to Cape Hillsborough, which is a national park that you camp in.
There are some nice walks around, which we did, and the kangaroos just hang around the toilets like furry dealers. It was nice seeing living kangaroos as there are so many obliterated on the side of the road.
We also visited a nature reserve and met some native animals including a blind Koala called Brady.
The actual highlight of our trip was Fardooleys bush camp. It isn’t an official campsite. This lovely couple have a shed load of land so they let people camp there for a nominal fee. There is nothing nearby so the stars are amazing. The showers are heated by a wood fire that the owner chops the wood for every night. Best shower in Australia! You are classed as a guest at their house rather than a customer and they invite you in to drink moonshine and listen to Australian country music with the locals! We had a blast!
Brisbane was a bit of a let down. Cities aren’t great in a camper. We spent a small fortune on the campsite yet we were still miles from the city so we paid another small fortune to get the bus into it. It was OK. Meh. I think cities are cities. They all have a forever 21 and a starbucks. If you want something different you need to go out into nature.
Down in Sydney, we braved the rain to go to see the city. We were lucky and were there at the time when “Vivid”, was on, which is a light festival. The opera house looked pretty cool. The whole area around the opera house was nice and had some lovely bars and shops.
At this point in my trip I had bought some tablets to help me de-stress. They were just herbal things. I noticed after a few days that my scalp started hurting. A few days after that, my hair started falling out from the root. Add to that that my pants are now becoming unbearably tight and my skin hasn’t seen the sun for a few weeks. Some of my friends have been backpacking and have come back, slender, glowing and bronzed. It will be just typical that I come back like this…
Shower the horse I’m done.